Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tweet test: the results.

Last week, you may remember, I rambled on for a while about how my Twitter feed was filling up with "buy my book" tweets and retweets, and suggested maybe we should all quit doing it, inasmuch as it alienates followers and doesn't sell books.

After reading some of the comments to that post, I decided to try a little test. Last Wednesday, I released the second of three Land, Sea, Sky short stories, Change of Plans. So on Thursday, I programmed HootSuite to promote the book by sending out one tweet an hour, from midnight to midnight -- 24 tweets in all.

Here's a screen shot of what my Twitter profile looked like that day. I'll spare you the repetition of all 24 tweets. (This isn't the most egregious use of Twitter I've ever heard of; I read about one self-pubbed author who programmed tweets to go out every 15 minutes.)

Granted that it's not the most cogently-written tweet ever, and #PipeWomanChronicles and #LandSeaSky aren't exactly trending hashtags (although not for lack on trying on my part, at least in the case of the Pipe Woman Chronicles). And it's a short story, which tends not to sell as well. And I offered it for 99 cents, not for free. But if Twitter were a viable advertising platform, you'd think I'd get some action out of my tweet blitz, wouldn't you?

Do you want to know how many copies of Change of Plans I sold on Thursday? Exactly one. And that sale may be attributable to my posting the link on the Thrifty Thursday feature at Indies Unlimited the same day, forgetting momentarily that I was doing the Twitter test. (In my defense, I hadn't had any coffee yet.)

I also should have checked whether I lost any followers because of my wall-to-wall Twitnoise. Alas, I forgot to note my pre- and post-test follower numbers -- and anyway, that, too, might have been skewed by a Twitter follow-fest we did at IU last week. (No, I'm not doing another tweet barrage to find out for sure.) I do have one anecdotal report, however: one of my daughter Kat's friends, who also follows me, asked Kat what was going on. Upon learning that it was a test, she told Kat that if it hadn't been, she would have unfollowed me.

If you need more evidence, this rant came to my attention today.  In it, a gentleman opines about how self-published authors are "destroying literature" (the maroon's words, not mine) by publishing unvetted dreck and -- wait for it -- clogging up social media with "buy my book" posts and tweets. (Apparently there's a #buymybook hashtag. I don't know why that surprised me.)

I hear you: "So if I can't use social media for advertising my book, what's it good for?" My friends, you can find the answer in the word "social". Don't just shout at people; aim to start a conversation. It's not hard! Here's what you do:
  1. Set up your Twitter profile properly. K.S. Brooks posted a tutorial last year at IU about how to get both your website's or blog's URL and your Amazon Author Page URL into your profile. Read her post here. Then go to your Twitter profile and fix it. Do it now, while you're thinking about it. Go ahead -- I'll wait.
  2. Back already? See, that didn't take long. Now make a quick list of things in your book that you could tweet about. The Pipe Woman Chronicles were rife with stuff I could work into tweets: the locales (Denver, the Pine Ridge Reservation), the people (Native Americans), the events, and the gods. A secondary theme of Fissured is hydraulic fracturing, so I sometimes post about that. Last week, I shared a link to a re-imagining of many of the Yoruba gods and goddesses, because Oya sends a human representative to the Big Mediation in Annealed. Your book is a standard romance? Then tweet about romance. Your book's a thriller? Tweet about real-life events that inspired you or that remind you of your plot.
  3. In addition to that, I'll tweet links to writing-related blog posts that I've found interesting. And occasionally, I'll post* random stuff that made me laugh.
So how does this sell books? If a follower thinks you're sufficiently interesting and/or entertaining, they will check out your profile to learn more about you. And I don't know about you, but I almost always click through to a person's profile before I follow them on Twitter. And -- hey presto! -- now your profile sports a link to your Amazon Author Page, so people can go there and look at your work. And precisely because you haven't been hitting them over the head with "buy my book" links, they're more likely to buy one of your books -- and tell their friends and followers what a great writer you are, on top of being entertaining, and maybe then those people will buy one of your books. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You don't think it works that way? Tell it to Hugh Howey. Wool got to be a bestseller by word of mouth. You've got nothing to lose by giving it a try.

*Dirty little secret: I have my Facebook fan page linked to my Twitter feed, so anything I post on my fan page goes automatically to Twitter.

In other news: The first draft of Crosswind should be done tomorrow -- huzzah! That means the book is on track for a late November release.

Thanks very much to those who've purchased Change of Plans! And please watch your spam filter e-mail inbox (I have no illusions here!) this week for an extremely belated newsletter.

Happy Mabon, everyone.

This is a test of the hearth/myth blog by Lynne Cantwell. This is ONLY a test. Do not adjust your set.

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